From David Humphreys
ALS, DLC:GW. The docket indicates receipt of this letter on 16 July 1793.
1. For Humphreys's letter to Thomas Jefferson of 29 April, see Jefferson Papers, 25:623. Richard O'Bryen's (O'Brien) letter, as copied by Humphreys, bears a dateline of "Algiers March the 26th 1793 & 8th of Captivity" and reads: "I had wrote you the 6th & 12th Ulto. informing you on many particulars—To this date the Algerine Corsairs has captured thirteen Dutch vessels, eight of those they have given up as being captured before the expiration of the 30 days which the Dey had given his word should expire before he would condemn any Dutch vessel. The other five is condemned. their Crews consisting of sixty three People are made Slaves. I had wrote you that the Pest had declared itself in this City of human misery. it encreases. on the 3d inst. it gave its fatal alarm in the Room of the American Captives in the Slave Prison. It struck Jacobus Tessanier one of our Brother sufferers. Another had its alarming symptoms four days—they were both sent to the Hospital, but thank the Almighty they are recovered & pronounced out of danger for the present. I am much concerned & afraid that this tremendous Disorder will carry off the major part of this victim remnant. They are at this alarming Crisis drove to the greatest despair. They are on the verge of Eternity, and to all appearance are destined to be the victims of American Independence. This is the third Plague they have been exposed to. Five of their Brother sufferers have entered the Bills of Mortality. The rest have suffered an ignominious captivity of nearly eight years. The major part of this trying period left in the most distressed & humiliating situation.
"I have my fears that many of them will renaunce their Country & become the Subjects of this Regency. Then they will thirst for revenge against the U.S. who have occasioned all their miseries.
"Twelve American Captives kept in a tormenting state of suspense, unparallelled in the Annals of Tyrants, with an ignominious captivity of nearly eight years is a strong emblem of American Liberty. This is the truth—and is what all Algiers sees & says.
"The Dutch & French being at present at war, I believe will retard the Dutch negociation with this Regency; and let it sooner or later take place I am sure it will cost the Dutch nearly 350,000 Mexico Dollars. I believe the Dey is inclinable to a Peace with Holland. The five Dutch vessels, cargoes & Crews captured by the Algerines are worth nearly 1 & ½ Million of Dollars. Two of these vessels are from Smyrna.
"The Spanish Consul in Algiers is using his influence in trying for the peace with this Regency for Portugal & Naples: the latter will shortly succeed. You may soon, but with regret, be informed of the fruits of his endeavours. the same time the U.S. lying dormant, insensible of the storms that are rising to destroy their commerce, and the fetters forging for their Subjects. If the U.S. want to obtain an honorable Peace with this Regency, it should be obtained by the influence of an American Camp on the banks of the River Mississipi.
"The Dey is much Dissatisfied with the French. He has threatened to make war: & signified to the French Consul to prepare to leave Algiers in 55 days.
"My dear Sir, I am struck with the most poignant grief. Congress have rejected the terms of Peace as dishonorable & have resolved not to redeem the twelve victims. For God's sake write to America for all the People to know we are on the verge of Eternity—given up—& for them to open a subscription in our behalf. . . . Pest encreases—it is my lot—I am happy in meeting my fate" (DLC:GW). This letter was almost certainly addressed to Bulkeley & Son of Lisbon, to whom O'Bryen had written on 12 Feb. (see Humphreys to GW, 4 April 1793). For the role of O'Bryen as spokesman for the American captives at Algiers, see Humphreys to GW, 4 April, n.1. [back to text]
2. Humphreys deleted no material here but used ellipses in place of a dash. On the American peace mission to Algiers, see GW to Thomas Jefferson, 10 Mar. 1792, and note 3, Conversation with a Committee of the U.S. Senate, 12 Mar. 1792, Jefferson to GW, 1 April 1792, and note 1, Jefferson's Memorandum on a Treaty with Algiers, 10 April 1792, and source note, and GW to U.S. Senate, 8 May 1792 (third letter), and note 2. [back to text]
3. George Smith was a seaman aboard the schooner Mary, which Algerian pirates captured in 1785. For the price of his ransom, see note 1. The papers to which Humphreys is referring were probably those of the late Thomas Barclay (Humphreys to GW, 23 Jan. 1793, and note 1). [back to text]
4. After his defeat at the Battle of Neerwinden on 18 Mar., Gen. Charles-François du Périer Dumouriez negotiated an armistice with the Austrians that included a plan for him to lead his army against Paris. The plan never materialized, and Dumouriez fled before accusations of treason, eventually settling in England. [back to text]
5. Even as the United States was preparing for a treaty at Lower Sandusky with the hostile Indians of the Northwest Territory, Gen. Anthony Wayne was readying his troops in case the negotiations failed (GW to Charles Carroll [of Carrollton] and Charles Thomson, 23–31 Jan., n.1, and Henry Knox to GW, 29 Jan., GW to Edmund Randolph, 12 Feb. 1793, John Stagg, Jr., to Tobias Lear, 5 Mar., n.1). [back to text]